Superbowl Sunday further north than anyplace else in the country

There were a couple of reasons I came.

But it wasn’t for glory or fame,

    The means and the ends

    To hang out with friends,

But football?  To heck with the game.

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  Avoiding burnout, I’m taking a sabbatical while my one-year non-compete clause winds down, having adventures, visiting family and friends, and working in out-of-the-way places.  Currently I’m on assignment at the hospital in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the United States.

 Bethany and I enjoyed a leisurely morning; Bethany knitted and listened to an audio book while I read.  After lunch we suited up for a walk, in the clear arctic daylight with temperatures barely in the negative double digits. 

We hiked around the lagoon, comfortable in our layers.  Our breath condensed on our lips, the faux fur of our hoods, and in our noses.  In our march to the sea, on the return trip, we passed the gas station (Barrow only has one), where the snow machines outnumbered the other vehicles by two to one. 

We walked on the snow-covered beach, with a fifteen foot pressure ridge separating us from the frozen-over Arctic Ocean.

On the beach by the Arctic Ocean, note pressure ridges in the background

We wanted to get back to the housing in time for the get-together.

The hospital in Barrow connects directly to staff housing.  The newer section contains two gyms and a room with a large-screen flat-panel TV, cable, and seven computer terminals.  People gather at the commons because it has the best computer connection (still, it runs slow).  Mostly we don’t socialize, we respect each other’s boundaries, but sometimes we talk.

Last night we had a good time playing

Today, we watched the Superbowl. 

I did not put money in the pool for fear I’d win and for fear I’d have an interest in the game.

Kickoff came at two hours past sunrise in Barrow, and the sun set before halftime.  Such are the peculiarities of living in a time zone four hours ahead of the east coast, where daylight might last three hours but twilight glows for four.

The real football fans clustered closer to the TV.  Those of us more interested in the food sat further away. 

We had hot wings, hot dogs, chili, hummus, pico de gallo, chili con queso, soda, hot salsa, chips, egg rolls, chocolate cake, caramel-chocolate popcorn, cheeses and crackers.  The crowd included doctors and dentists with their wives, lab techs, nurses, and pharmacists.

Some had a margarita or two.  No one drank beer.

In my first undergraduate career, I played saxophone with the Yale University Precision Marching Band and watched every football game for three years.  Since then my interest in spectator sports is directly proportional to my personal connection with the players. 

I marveled at the technical wonder of the photography.   I laughed and groaned at the commercials, which deserve a lot of superlatives.

But at halftime I took a quick nap, then went to the clinic to relieve one of my colleagues.

Being a good team player ranks higher in my priorities than watching football or earning overtime pay.


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